Listed below are a few local and science-oriented volunteer opportunities. They cover anything from outdoor education to citizen science! Many of the organizations listed allow groups of volunteers, as well as individuals. Click on the links at the end of each description for access to the organization’s volunteer application or general volunteer information.
UC Santa Cruz Fort Ord Natural Reserve
UC Santa Cruz Fort Ord Natural Reserve (FONR) is part of the effort to protect habitats and species found to be at risk after the military base closure. The Reserve provides teaching and research opportunities on maritime chaparral and associated species.
Selena Vengco, an undergraduate researcher with Dr. Laurel Fox's lab at UCSC, is seeking volunteers to help with her study on manzanita and fire history at FONR. Volunteers would help set out plots, survey and identify plant species, and collect coordinates of potential sandmat manzanita stems. The project provides a unique opportunity for volunteers to gain ecology field work experience. Volunteers are needed for 4-5 hours on Fridays.
Application deadline: ASAP
Point Blue Conservation Science
Point Blue Conservation Science is looking for Volunteer Elephant Seal Research Assistants for winter 2019/2019 on Southeast Farrallon Island. Research Assistant (RA) responsibilities include censusing and monitoring breeding elephant seals, flipper tagging animals, resighting tagged California and Steller's Sea Lions, Harbor Seals, and Northern Fur Seals, and surveying for salamanders, crickets, songbirds, seabirds, gully, burrowing owls, and whales.
Applicants should enjoy working independently with a high level of responsibility in field work and data entry, as well as working frequently with a partner or team. Enthusiasm for field work in windy, cold conditions and the ability to coexist on a small, isolated island with the same crew for several months is essential. Positions are available December 2, 2018 - March 30, 2019 and require a minimum 8-week commitment.
To apply, please email a cover letter explaining your interests, your resume, dates of availability, and 3 professional references to Pete Warzybok.
Application deadline: September 20, 2018
Fort Ord Natural Reserve
UC Santa Cruz Fort Ord Natural Reserve (FONR) is seeking hardworking student volunteers with an interest in ornithology. They will be doing hands-on bird banding through FONR.
The project offers a unique opportunity to learn about mist netting, banding, data collection and processing, and bird safety at FONR. Volunteer experience will provide students with invaluable professional and research skills to cite on their resume. There is no experience or time commitment necessary to volunteer. Times and durations of volunteer opportunities is subject to change with the seasons.
- Interest in bird banding
- Intended major
- Any relevant previous experience
- Availability during fall semester
Fort Ord National Monument
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is seeking student volunteers for restoration projects on Fort Ord National Monument (FONM) through December 2018. They will be restoring native habitats including oak woodlands, grasslands and riparian corridors on FONM.
Projects are highly variable but a student can expect to remove invasive species, plant oak saplings, build protective tree cages, weed water and mulch restoration sites, conduct bunch-grass surveys, collect seed from native plants, and monitor previous restoration sites. Volunteers are also needed for several GIS and remote sensing projects, as well as analysis of sheep grazing data on FONM.
Volunteer experience will help students develop skills needed by future employers and give volunteers work experience to cite on their resume. There is no experience or commitment necessary to volunteer. However, students who can commit to a weekly schedule are preferred.
If interested or have questions, please contact Chris Hart at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ongoing Volunteer Opportunities
Big Sur Land Trust
Big Sur Land Trust is a non-profit organization located in Monterey, CA. Their mission is to engage visitors in exciting outdoor activities in an effort to inspire conservation. Volunteers can work on leading hikes, landscaping/trail maintenance, office/work, outdoor education, photography, and more!
Elkhorn Slough is a careful balance of farming, people, and nature all in one ecosystem. In order to preserve these elements, Elkhorn Slough employs the use of federal and local organizations, as well as dedicated volunteers. Volunteers can help with water quality monitoring, restoration, and can assist as educators!
Monterey Bay Aquarium
The Monterey Bay Aquarium is a non-profit public aquarium in Monterey, CA. Their mission is to inspire and educate visitors from various backgrounds on the importance of ocean conservation. Volunteers can work as seasonal tour guides, divers, and can even help care for the otters! Some positions require additional training.
Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS) is a federally protected marine area off the central coast of California. MBNMS is dedicated to protecting the vital marine resources this area provides. Volunteers can do water quality monitoring, urban runoff collecting, kayaker education, and special programs.
Marine Mammal Center's Monterey Bay Operations
The Marine Mammal Center's Monterey Bay Operations (MBO) rescues stranded marine mammals in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties. Volunteers assess reported injured marine mammals, transport patients to and from the main facility, and provide public outreach.
Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District
The Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District (MPRPD) works to connect community members with beautiful parks and adventurous trails around the peninsula. Volunteers can become naturalists or assist with their Community ALIVE! (Act Locally In Volunteer Endeavors) program.
Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History
The Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History seeks to educate visitors on the natural and cultural diversity that exists on the central California coast. It acts as a living field guide for the community, attracting visitors from all over the world. Volunteers can assist as gardeners, educators, or for special events.
Seymour Marine Discovery Center at Long Marine Lab
The Seymour Marine Discovery Center is dedicated to educating people about the role scientific research plays in the conservation of the world’s oceans. It offers hands-on immersion into the world of ocean exploration and discovery. Volunteers can assist as exhibit guides, school program instructors, and more!
Surfrider Foundation- Monterey Chapter
The Surfrider Foundation works to educate communities on the importance of protecting the ocean. The Monterey Chapter hosts regular beach cleanups at the many beautiful beaches in the area! They provide everything needed for the cleanup, excluding transportation to and from the site.
Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History
The Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History (SCMNH) has been connecting people to the wonders of nature for over 100 years. Located above Seabright Beach, the Museum highlights the region’s diverse plant, animal, and human communities from the shoreline of Monterey Bay to the summit of the Santa Cruz Mountains. We strive to fulfill our mission to connect people to nature and inspire stewardship of the natural world through an array of educational programs and exhibits focused on natural and cultural history of our region.